Fintech Insights

Ride the Digital Waves to a Successful Healthcare Transformation

March 30, 2017

Today’s consumers expect an increasingly digital experience from healthcare insurers. But what should that experience deliver – and are your systems up to the challenge?

As McKinsey reported recently, healthcare’s adoption of digital technology has generally followed the same pattern as other industries. The first wave of activity, in the 1950s, saw the automation of statistical data processing and standardized tasks such as accounting and payroll. In the second, two decades later, companies began integrating different parts of core processes, like HR and manufacturing. Now, organizations are moving towards “the third wave of IT adoption – full digitization of their entire enterprise,” according to McKinsey.

It's this third wave that seems to have caused the most trouble for healthcare insurers. With a vast ecosystem of stakeholders and changing regulations for them to manage, the dream of a fully integrated healthcare IT system remains elusive.

Not only do insurers struggle with the complex challenges involved, but they also lack confidence when it comes to digital innovation. A new survey by FIS and Raconteur found that more than 99 percent of insurers face obstacles to innovation, while more than a quarter of C-level insurance executives agree that insurance is less innovative than other financial services sectors.

However, it’s possible that healthcare payers are overthinking the development of their digital services – and overestimating the levels of innovation their customers expect. What if understanding customers and their needs is less sophisticated and demanding than you might first think?

Core requirements are surprisingly mundane, McKinsey notes. Consumers primarily long for better access to information – whether it is about their coverage or the cost of treatment – and a fast, integrated channel experience. For example, they want the ability to schedule an appointment directly after checking on the status of benefit coverage. Or, instead of waiting seven days for mail, they’d like to receive a digital ID card instantly on a mobile device, along with a direct link to send it to a provider.

So, while we see digital-savvy consumers make more and more use of apps and social media to manage their healthcare needs, they mainly crave a service that’s clear and simple to use, with a transparent view of their options. The good news is that transparency works both ways – when services are digitized, insurers ain greater insights into customers’ behavior and preferences as well.

The key is to take a bottom-up approach to this wave of digitization. By laying a strong foundation for automation across your enterprise, you position your business process automation and content management solutions to help you achieve your vision of integrated healthcare management. At the same time, you improve how customers and employees interact with information and each other – providing the two-way transparency that is vital for better service.

Don’t be daunted by digital innovation. Building an automated ecosystem and bringing your processes together into a simpler, more unified architecture will help you identify further opportunities for digitization in a cycle of continuous improvement. It doesn’t have to happen all at once – but catching the third wave of innovation will help you move forward more rapidly to a transformed digital future.